Pump Up the Volume | Chicago Reader

Pump Up the Volume

An alienated and politically disaffected teenager (Christian Slater) in an Arizona suburb makes pirate radio broadcasts venting his spleen and libido, and finds himself heading a student revolution in an exciting and affecting comedy-drama (1990) with a genuine lift. Written and directed by Canadian independent filmmaker (Montreal Main, The Rubber Gun) and sometime actor (Outrageous!) Allan Moyle, this powerhouse, euphoric entertainment was probably the best radical youth movie since Over the Edge (1979), thanks to an excellent script and cast (including Samantha Mathis, Scott Paulin, Ellen Greene, and Annie Ross) and a driving, rebellious sound track of about a dozen pop and rock singles by everyone from Leonard Cohen to Liquid Jesus. A clarion call for freedom and collective action both hopeful and energizing, it qualifies as a generational statement as Rebel Without a Cause did in the 50s, but without the defeatism and masochism. Not to be missed. 100 min.


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